Friday, September 04, 2009

thinking out loud

crazy smoke cloud
yesterday i watched a man toss a cigarette out his car window. he tossed a cigarette out the window as the landscape behind him burned just as ferociously as it has been for the past week. i was in the car and he was two lanes away and my heart raced as i contemplated getting out of my car, walking over to the smoldering butt of the cigarette, picking it up and handing it back to him. i didn't feel that yelling would help. i didn't feel that berating and verbal chastising would do anything. i watched the smoke rise up and over this city i love and i gazed upon this man who just tossed a burning object out his car window. i suppose he felt my gaze because suddenly his eyes were on me. he knew why i was looking at him. he knew what he did was wrong. his eyes defied me. his face was fierce and cocky and cold. and yet, underneath it all, he looked unsure. i would like to know that he felt sorry or that he felt anything, any connection to this tiny little act he put forth. please let him feel something. let there be a connection. let him think of this the next time he moves so carelessly through his life.

this all happened just after i left the supermarket. a place that is filled with excess. i wandered through the market with a mantra in my head...milk, fruit, bread...milk, fruit, bread. it has been hot here and i have been whiney. the smoke makes it unhealthy and uncomfortable to be outdoors and the tiny casa is so hot i cannot muster the desire to cook. i moseyed through the air conditioned store thinking about choices. about how i wished we lived where we could be more sustainable. how i wished i didn't have a little magpie in me who lusted for happy velvet things. and as i did so, i talked it out to myself. i am a person who is known for being chatty. i know there are some out there who cannot handle my loquaciousness and i can't blame them. the problem is that i talk out the thoughts in my head so i can hear them better. i talk them out, all the time. this is simply how i process. i need to hear my thoughts out loud. it is just the way it works for me so admittedly as i wandered the nice, cool aisles i am running my mouth to no one in particular, i am performing a verbal commentary as i shop. i think, the words come out, i asses and i answer. so as i am wandering i am mumbling to myself. i am mumbling about my dream of buying milk in glass jars. i put products back that have packaging if i can make it at home. i wish i could untangle my habits into a more linear vision. my head is all wrapped up in cost so i grab the gallon of milk which is cheaper than the quart of Broguiere's and i hesitate. The Broguiere's tastes so much better and is in a glass bottle that we can reuse or give back to the company. The plastic gallon jug i just picked up has more milk in it and it is in a recyclable container but is it the better choice?

when you make an effort to change your life of consumption to one of less, you stagger through piles and piles of choices. on the surface, the choices you make may seem like poor choices or not-good-enough choices. some may look at your choices and think they are flat out bad choices. you have to move forward and not think of others in that regard but think of you and your lifestyle and what you want to change and why you want to change it. is living a sustainable life real to you or is it a trend? for me, it is both. it is very real as i have lived carelessly in the past and want to change that, it is real that i want my life to have meaning to me and living with this word over my head slows me down so that i think about the choices i am making. along with that, i find the trend is helping me as well. the popularity and the growth of this movement keeps it in the forefront of my day but what is more valuable to me than using less is that i am slowly moving forward with purpose. for me, it isn't simply about using less, it is about living more.

i finish up my shopping and have three dollars to spare. i put the groceries into the car (yes, i brought my own bags) and contemplate this heat. i think about the three dollars i have left and decide i want to treat myself to a drink. there is a starbucks in the store and my mind likes the idea of a cold iced coffee. as i stroll back inside i remember i don't have my cup on me and i think how i should make my own coffee but am out of coffee. three dollars won't buy good coffee so i begin to wander again thinking out loud what i should do. a cold iced coffee sounds soooo good but i think about the cup and how there are too many of us on this planet adding way too much to our landfills. then i think about all those things we throw away that we shouldn't and my mind wanders to the absurdity of putting animal waste in a plastic bag when the waste is biodegradable but the bag is not. i think about how there are almost seven billion people on the planet and how we can't stop the climate change and that there is a problem with the number of people we have and how it is just getting bigger. then i think of the woman who just had the eight babies and how, to me, that is selfish and morally questionable and i think of how much i want to be a mother but can't with my wonky bits and i think of adoption and it all goes into another vicious circle. my desire for something cold to drink responds to my id and i decide i will get a coke. none of this makes any sense but this is the me i want to remember so i am writing it all down. i waffle between the coffee drink, a tiny bag of ground coffee or a coke. i think of the plastic cup and lid and straw and can't settle with it. if i get the ground coffee i would have to make up a pot and then let it cool and well, like i said, my id is speaking. i decide on coke. there is a bottle involved but it yields more beverage and i justify my purchase to myself with the knowledge that i will reuse and recycle the bottle and i will put my change in the donation tub at the register. so i do and i did and then i get into the car and i see the man with the cigarette and my heart aches for the world we live in.

i make it home, put the gorceries away, refold my bags and put them into my purse for next time. i rinse out my jar from the morning, fill it up with ice (guiltily thinking of jane goodall's words the whole time) and poor myself a cold glass of coke. i plop myself onto the sofa in front of the fan and take a sip. it doesn't taste nearly as refreshing as i had hoped and i write it down because these are the small incidents that encourage me to change.

everyday we make choices. my goal is to make them with purpose.

sara over on the small object also wrote something about choices. i bookmarked it because it spoke to me and what happened yesterday. thank you sara, for sharing your words.


  1. thanks for this post today jek. if we were all just a tiny itty bit more aware of our choices it would make such a big huge difference.

    have a nice weekend friend!

  2. Anonymous10:45 AM

    I like the way you write jek. And, I hear ya. I think a lot too, but it's when we listen to what we think that we can begin change. Thanks for sharing. graygoosie

  3. And here I thought it was just me who went on and on about stuff like this. I keep things because I know I can reuse them later but then I can't handle the clutter and as soon as I clear out the clutter I find I needed something I'd just given away or posted to freeycle. I get so angry sometimes at other parents that I want to shake them when they drive their children to the bus stop and they live 50 feet from it or drive them to school when their homes are a meer block away. That's just a morning gripe. I buy the milk in the glass bottle for a treat for myself and take back the bottles. It does taste better but it's not feasible on our weeks with all 6 kids. And kind of idiot tosses out a light cig when practially the entire state is burning?
    think cool thoughts and have a fun weekend with your sweetie.

  4. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Bless you heart, miss jessica. I think that in time this type of thinking will just get easier for us in making better choices. Keep up the good work. Susan

  5. Love to see that other people talk to themselves (in their heads) too.
    As for the guy and the cigarette - my husband always complains that there are soo many people out there that don't realize that their action effect others - they just live in a bubble worrying only about themselves

  6. I can not remember where I found this, but I keep it on my corkboard in the kitchen.


    It is difficult and expensive to live consciously when we have been trained by the media and corporations to consume and take the easy throw away route. I try to choose better all the time. First I am trying to get away from animal tested products and companies, but finding good alternatives has been difficult and always more expensive. Next, my goal is organic and absolute minimal packaging.
    You are sweet about the cigarette, I would have wanted to pick it up and put it out inside his nostril.

  7. Anonymous12:06 PM

    I agree with the excess. We live in a country that has so much and we don't appreciate it.

    As for glass milk bottles, I don't know about your stores, but Whole Foods here in Fresno carries dairy products in glass bottles. It is still a possibility. Also, I have a CSA subscription where I get a box of locally grown produce every week. I hardly ever buy fruits or veggies at the store now.

  8. Stumbled upon this post and it made my heart beat faster: could have been me: the anger in the car and the moment between getting out of it and yelling at the stranger and then thinking of a better way to make him (perhaps) understand.
    And this thing about the supermarket and all the goods in plastic. I try to make a change but it is hard everyday. We can afford to run these super efficient electronic devices at home so we do it but then I feel bad the next moment when I buy something prepacked because it tastes so much better than the unpacked thing. We buy bio where we can and recycle and stuff but I still want to be missionary and think I am sometimes a pain in the ass and make people miserable (like my in-laws this summer where I pondered upon prepacked tablets for dishwasher and individual yoghurts packed in plastic insteda of the big reusable glass.... Some people don't get it and I am making an effort nevertheless. And I am failing a lot of times. But it helps reading books like "The simple Living guide" or blog entry like yours. Go ahead talking like this - we are listening!

  9. That was such a lovely post - addled and lucid at the same time - I feel like you do too - it is so hard to make the right choices, or any choices when there is so much on offer, most of it bad, harmful to you or the environment, or both. Keep writing - you inspire more of us to be aware.